Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category

The Flesh of Swine

“I made myself accessible to those who didn’t ask for me, I let myself be found by … a nation not called by my name. I spread out my hands all day long to a rebellious people … who follow their own inclinations; a people who provoke me to my face all the time … they eat pig meat and their pots hold soup made from disgusting things” (Isaiah 65:1-4).

It’s not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, it’s what comes out.  Jesus made all foods clean in Mark 7.  Read Acts chapter 10 if you don’t believe me.  Peter ate with gentiles so he had to have eaten pork.  What about the Council of Jerusalem?  There were only four requirements for gentiles.   The broken record continues to skip, skip, skip.

Rightly Dividing Mark 7

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of law Torah who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Yeshua and saw some of his disciples eating food with ‘unclean‘ – that is, ceremonially unwashed- hands” (verse 1).

When reading verse 1, notice two things.  First, the disciples were eating food.  The word ‘food’ in this verse is the Greek artos and means ‘bread.’  The disciples were not eating just any food, they were eating bread.  Second, they had not washed their hands.

“The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders” (verse 2).

Verse 2 specifically states that hand washing was a prerequisite to eating food, in this case bread.  Hand washing had become a tradition that even involved a certain way to wash the hands.

“When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash.  And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles” (verse 3).

Verse 3 explains the tradition was not just about hand washing, but about everything in Jewish tradition. The rituals of the elders made cooking and eating a burden because of all the rules, including the ritual of hand washing.

“So the Pharisees and teachers of the Torah asked Yeshua, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean‘ hands?” (verse 4).

The question asked in Verse 4 by the Pharisees is not about what the disciples were eating, but why they were not following the tradition of the elders in regards to hand washing. According to these leaders, the disciples were eating with unwashed or ‘unclean’ hands.

“Yeshua replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men….’  And he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions” (verses 6-8).

At this point, there is no further mention of food, bread, artos – clean or unclean.  The issue being disputed in Mark 7 is the traditions of the elders or manmade Jewish laws that nullify the commandments of God, specifically in reference to hand washing.   

Yeshua continues to give other examples where the Pharisees and teachers of Torah “nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (verse 13).

“Again Yeshua called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.  Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’” (verse 14).

In Verse 14, Yeshua never mentions food, bread.    He says that nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ referring to something greater outside of the Jewish tradition of hand washing.

“After he had left the crowd and entered the house, the disciples asked him about this parable.  ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked.  ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?  For it doesn’t go into his heart, but into his stomach, and then out of his body (into the latrine)” (verses 17-19).

Yeshua does not ever mention food when he explains the parable to his disciples.   He says that ‘no thing’ that enters a man from outside can make him ‘unclean.’  Consider at this point the issue being discussed: ceremonial hand washing.  Yeshua’s disciples had come from the marketplace or a grain field or even the Sea of Galilee.  Their hands were dirty and they were eating bread (artos).  This offended those leaders who held to the tradition of the elders in regards to ritual hand washing.  According to the tradition, no one is supposed to eat food, in this case bread, with dirty hands.  Yeshua tells his disciples that dirty hands don’t make a man dirty or unclean in his heart.   The dirt that may enter his mouth on the food (bread)  or his hands will go through his body and out into the toilet.

Verse 19 causes all the confusion. “In saying this, Yeshua declared all foods clean.”  In some Bible versions, there is a footnote clarifying that this parenthetical statement was added later by translators meaning  that some translator was injecting an opinion rather than taking the Scriptural events at face value.

However, on some level, what the translator wrote is true.  Everything created by God for food is clean.  However, the specific food spoken about in this passage,  artos or bread, has always been, and always will be clean.  Some versions of Mark 7 have translated artos as ‘meat’ taking this discourse into a very different direction than what was asked, Yeshua explained and his disciples understood.

What God Considers Food

Leviticus 11:1-23 outlines what God considers food and what He does not.  These verses are often referred to as ‘clean and unclean’ laws or the dietary regulations. They are not for the Jews alone because they are God’s dietary laws; not Jewish tradition.  Non-Jews who put their faith in Yeshua and are adopted into the commonwealth of Israel are not excluded from obeying these rules as part of God’s Kingdom.

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.  “‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you.  The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

“‘Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales.  But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean.  And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean.  Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.

“‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle,  the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite,  any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl,  the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

“‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you. There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.’”

It is interesting to note that there are more animals mentioned in Leviticus as ‘unclean’ than just the pig.  There is the rabbit, the camel and the hyrax.  There are creatures in the ocean without both fins and scales that are not considered food.  Birds such as vultures, ravens, hawks and owls are not considered food.  Insects that walk on all fours are also not considered food.  Verse 11 clearly states that ‘unclean’ means ‘not food’: “And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat.”

Noah Ate Everything, Right?

Noah lived before God gave dietary instructions to the Israelites.  Before the flood and during his lifetime,  people ate only what they produced from the earth.   According to the book of Enoch where more details are given to the ‘days of Noah,’ the Nephilim ate everything:  every animal, bird, and creature.  They even drank the blood of men.  They devoured the earth and defiled humanity.  God not only saw the lawlessness of the Nephilim, but also every evil inclination in the heart of mankind.  He decided to wipe the human race from the earth and with them, the animals, the birds and creatures that move along the ground (Genesis 6:5-7).

Within this context, Noah was commanded to build an ark.  He was also told to take with him into the ark “seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth” (Genesis 7:2-3).

“Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah” (Genesis 7:8).

Two times it is mentioned that Noah took ‘clean and unclean animals’ with him on the ark.  Because Noah had never eaten the meat of animals, he  probably did not know the difference between ‘clean and unclean’ so God brought the animals to him. From what he was shown in pairs of two or seven pairs of two, he learned and understood the difference immediately.

After the floodwaters subsided and the Ark rested on Ararat, Noah and the animals left the Ark.   At this time, Noah worshipped the LORD by offering a sacrifice.  He took some of the clean animals and birds, but none of the unclean. 

“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.  The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” (Genesis 8:19-21).

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands.  Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you.  Just as I gave you green plants, I now give you everything” (Genesis 9:3).

It would seem that after the flood, Noah could eat the mean of every animal that came with him on the Ark because ‘everything that lives and moves about will be food for you.’ However, if he ate one of the pigs or rabbits or hawks, they would have immediately become extinct since there were only one male and one female of every ‘unclean animal.’

Consider also that though Noah had eaten ‘all green plants,’  he probably didn’t eat poisonous mushrooms or poison ivy or the green leaves of rhubarb.   Just as some plants were not edible or created as food, some animals had purposes other than food.  The camel is a beast of burden as is a horse.  A hawk cleans up dead animals on the earth while shrimp and crabs clean up the dead, decaying creatures on the sea bottom.  God saying that just as Noah had green plants to eat so he has all animals is not all inclusive given the information God has revealed to him regarding the number of animals brought onto the Ark and the command to multiply on the earth.

Part of the sacrificial or offering system that was eventually established by God with Israel had to do with feeding the Levitical priesthood.  They had been given no land of their own, no livestock, no farms.  They were fed from the sacrificed animals, all of which were ‘clean’ animals or those that God created for food.   It  is the same for Noah.  He did not sacrifice and eat unclean animals; he sacrificed and ate the clean ones which had been shown to him as he entered the Ark.  He knew what God meat considered food and what He did not.

Making all foods clean was not the purpose of Noah’s deliverance from the polluted world of the Nephilim nor was it the message of  the Prophets(Moses), the Gospel preached by Yeshua or the Apostles. It was not the purpose of Peter’s vision nor the conclusion of the Council of Jerusalem.

What ABOUT Peter’s vision?

“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.  He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.  It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” (Acts 10:9-21).

This Biblical account in Acts is about a vision, a trance, not an actual event.  Just as Joseph’s dreams didn’t literally come true, but had spiritual meaning, so does Peter’s vision.

Peter went to the roof to pray.  He was hungry and had a vision of a sheet filled with all kinds of unclean animals.  (In the KJV, this sheet was bound at the four corners suggesting that it was a talit or prayer shawl which adds another dimension to the spiritual meaning of the vision.)

When God tells Peter to ‘get up, kill and eat’, Peter’s first response is, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

Peter’s first response is refusing to eat  animals that are not considered food. This seems like a strange response from one of Yeshua’s disciples.  Peter would have been with Yeshua when he ‘made all foods clean‘ in Mark 7 if, in fact, that is what Yeshua actually did.  Of course, after dissecting Mark 7, it is pretty clear that Yeshua was not talking about ‘clean and unclean’ foods, but the tradition of ritual hand washing.   If Yeshua had, during his lifetime, made all foods (meats, included) clean,  Peter, of all his disciples, would have known and should have had a different reaction to the voice of God.   If Yeshua had, after his resurrection, made all foods clean, Peter, of all the Apostles, surely would have known and should have had a different first response.

God speaks to Peter a second time because Peter is not understanding the vision.   Even after the second time, he doesn’t understand and God speaks to him a third time.  It is interesting that many well-meaning, but untaught Christians immediately conclude that this vision was about eating everything as food; however Peter, who experienced the vision, was still wondering about its meaning even after being told THREE TIMES!  While Peter is still thinking about the vision, some men come to visit him.

A tradition at this time was that a Jewish person would not step foot in a gentile’s home. This was an  understood tradition and one that Yeshua himself honored. He never went into a gentile’s home. NEVER. The Centurion in Matthew 8 understood this tradition and told Yeshua he did not need to come to his home.  He knew Yeshua was a man of authority and that whatever Yeshua asked would be done.  Yeshua commended him for having greater faith than those in Israel.  There was also the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 who had a demon-possessed daughter.   She asked Yeshua for help and was told it was not right to take food from [the Jewish] children and give it to the dogs [gentiles].  Her response was that even the dogs eat the crumbs from under their owner’s table.  She, too, was commended for her great faith.

It isn’t until the following day at the house of a gentile man, a Roman centurion named Cornelius, that Peter begins to understand the vision.  Cornelius wasn’t just any gentile.  He was God-fearing and righteous. He was respected by all the Jewish people with whom he came in contact.   In the presence of Cornelius, Peter is finally able to  interpret the vision. He begins to understand the message of Yeshua, the message of salvation, is to go to the nations that were represented by the four-footed unclean animals in the sheet.

“Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34).

Notice what Peter states: God accepts people from every nation who not only FEAR Him, but DO what is right.  What does this mean?  To be a God-fearing gentile meant  that gentile obeyed God’s commandments.  To do what is right is nothing more than living rightly before God, being righteous.

Cornelius was both a God-fearing and righteous gentile.  From his interactions and relationships with the Jewish people around him, he already understood their God, His commandments, and what was food and what was not food.  Cornelius’s eating habits were probably similar to those of the Jews who respected him and considered him righteous!   No one in Cornelius’ house, including Peter, ever mentioned food and eating pig or shrimp because food was never the meaning of Peter’s vision.  It was about going to the gentiles and entering their homes with the message of Yeshua.  It was the removal of a tradition that kept the gentiles separated from the Jewish community.  Now, through the vision it was understood that by putting their faith in the Jewish Messiah, Cornelius and his family could become part of the commonwealth of Israel.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit and immersed in water.  Soon after this event, word spread throughout Judea that gentiles were receiving the salvation of God, not having pork roasts. 

Let’s suppose for a minute that Cornelius did eat unclean foods as many Christians would argue  Would not  his new-found faith in the Messiah of Israel along with the righteous condition of his heart give him the desire to learn the Scriptures and obey God’s commandments?  Would not Peter have taken the time to teach him God’s ordinances or, even more so, the Spirit of God that now filled his heart write them on Cornelius’ heart?  Being a gentile was and is still never an excuse for disobedience after receiving the Spirit of God and being immersed.

After this event, Peter went up to Jerusalem and was criticized for entering the homes of gentiles and eating with them.  Again, it wasn’t about what Peter was eating, but with whom he was eating!  Table fellowship bound people together and the leaders in Jerusalem were worried that the Scriptures were going to become watered down if Peter fellowshipped with gentile believers in their homes.   Peter had to explain that the gentiles were coming to faith in Messiah and living lives of repentance.  Repentance in Hebrew is shuv and means returning to the ways of God which would include obeying the dietary regulations in the Scriptures.

“Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story …” (Acts 11:4).  When they heard that God had baptized the gentiles with the Holy Spirit, they had no further objections to fellowship between Jewish and non-Jewish believers.

“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).

It is a serious distortion of Scripture to think that Peter, a faithful Messianic Jew, would suddenly eat animals that were not created to be food in order to win gentiles to faith in Messiah.  In reality, it was the gentiles who were coming to faith in the Jewish Messiah that were challenged to leave behind their pagan, unBiblical practices and live according to the commandments of God.  No one ever mentioned from the first moment of Peter’s vision through its interpretation in Jerusalem that suddenly it was acceptable to eat all animals, ‘clean or unclean.’ Instead, they were rejoicing that the gentles were being saved and grafted into the Kingdom of God.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Council of Jerusalem

Some time after Paul began his ministry to gentiles, certain people came from Judea in Israel to Antioch in the diaspora and were teaching believers that unless they were circumcised they could not be saved.  This caused dissension within the Body of Messiah, as well as between Paul and Barnabas.  They decided to go to Jerusalem to present the matter to the apostles.

The apostles considered the question and resolved that  gentiles did not have to be circumcised in the flesh in order to be saved meaning that gentiles did not have to convert to Judaism through a ritual circumcision, but could remain as gentiles.   Because the elders heard that God was purifying the gentiles’ hearts and anointing them with the Holy Spirit, they concluded that justification is by faith in Messiah alone.  From these spiritual truths, they developed a ‘judicial statement’ and decided they should not make it difficult for gentiles to turn to God.   They outlined four beginning requirements.

“Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” (Acts 15:20).

These four requirements were given to gentiles coming from a  pagan culture who were turning to the God of Israel through repentance.  Each of these requirements were part of pagan ritual worship and had to be removed from their lives so as not to pollute the growing Body of Messiah with the ways of the nations.    This was to be the beginning of how to turn to God not the only forever requirements they had to do in their walk of faith.   In fact, these four requirements encompass nearly all Torah commands given to Israel: dietary laws, sacrificial laws, sexual morality/immorality laws, and idolatry.

The next verse is rarely quoted with the four requirements, but is just as important, if not crucial, to the growth of every new believer then, as well as now:

“For the Torah of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21).

This final statement embodied the life of every believer whether Jew (circumcised) or non-Jew (uncircumcised) in the first century.  Born again non-Jews who were turning to God attended synagogues  every Sabbath, not churches.   They heard the teachings and instructions given to Moses known as Torah and were being convicted and challenged regarding their sinful lifestyles. Through the Spirit their new circumcised hearts and minds were transformed and renewed. This joining and unification of ‘circumcised’ Jew and ‘uncircumcised’ gentile believers in the synagogues that testified to  the ‘one new man’ in Messiah.

For the first 30 years after Messiah’s resurrection, the Messianic community including all gentile believers were taught and instructed in the first five books of the Bible.   They did not  have Acts chapter 10.  They did not have a New Testament gospel called Mark from which to make doctrines about God.  They only had the Torah with which to learn the commandments.  They only had the Prophets and Writings to understand their new covenant Messianic faith.

At the Council of Jerusalem, there was nothing mentioned about foods and dietary changes based on what was happening with the gentiles coming to faith.   No one suggested that eating pork, camel or dog was now acceptable because “Jesus had died on the cross.”   In fact, quite the opposite was true.  Sacrificing and eating unclean animals along with idol worship was not to be among the gentiles who were living lives of repentance.  New believers from the nations obeyed these requirements because Yeshua’s death and resurrection had brought them into the Kingdom of God and had given them a new life, a life they wanted to embrace.

The Real Problem with ‘Porky the Pig’

Did you know that Jewish people who were forced to convert to a new religion called Christianity (via Roman catholicism) were called maranos?   This word in Spanish means ‘damned, accursed, banned   and HOG.’   It was applied to Spanish/Portuguese Jews when they succumbed to eating the flesh of swine in order to save their lives.

Pig in the form of  pork, sausage or bacon has been used throughout Christian history to force Jewish people to convert to Christianity on pain of death.  Jewish people converted to this foreign religion to avoid cruel and inhumane persecutions based solely on the fact that they obeyed Yahweh’s commandments: did not eat pig, circumcised their sons, and kept the Sabbath along with the  Feasts of the LORD.  They were forced with threat of death to disobey God’s commands in order to reside within the Christian community as a marano ‘pig’ convert.

The whole issue of eating pork, the flesh of swine,  has been and continues to be used by the enemy to keep Jewish people from truly knowing the love of God through their own Messiah.  It is used (and eaten) most explicitly by people who say they know and love Jesus Christ!  This is unfortunate because Jewish people are looking for a Messiah who will teach the Torah in proper perspective as Yeshua did.  They do not recognize a pork eating Christian Jesus as their deliverer and they never will.

The Millennial Kingdom

“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens behind one of their temples and eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things – they will meet their end together with the one they follow,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 66:17).

This Scripture from Isaiah is about the time before the new heavens and earth during the Millennial Kingdom when Yeshua will judge the nations.  One of the judgments is against those who eat the ‘flesh of swine’ behind their temples.   Pig roasts, along with pulled pork and every other kind of meat  portion from the pig, have become more and more prevalent in church pot lucks today as Christians fight for and defend eating the flesh of swine.  Bacon has become an almost revered food and flavors nearly everything offered in main and side dishes. If eating pig was no longer considered something ‘unclean’ in the eyes of God, then Isaiah would not have prophesied that those who eat this meat ‘behind their temples’ will meet their end with the one they follow.

Yeshua did not make all bread clean for he did not have to; it was already a clean food and always will be.  Noah understood the difference between which animals were considered food and which were not based on the number of pairs of animals God brought to the Ark.   God’s dietary outline for Israel had no mention of health or undercooked meats.  The only requirement was their faith being expressed through obedience.  Peter’s vision did not remove ‘unclean’ foods from a god-fearer’s diet,  but was revelation that the promise to Abraham was being fulfilled, the good news of  salvation was going to the nations.  The Council of Jerusalem laid the foundation for gentiles who were coming to faith in Yeshua which  included obeying the Torah commands about idolatry, sexual immorality the eating of blood (kosher food).  Finally, Isaiah prophesied what will happen to those in the future who rebel against God and His commands by eating the flesh of swine.   They will meet their end with the one they follow who cannot be the Messiah of Israel.

©August 2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive. 

When was Jesus born?

“For to us a child is born,  to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty  will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Sukkah

Most Christians acknowledge that Jesus (Yeshua) was not born on December 25 in the middle of winter.  Yet few realize that Yeshua’s birth is outlined in the Bible if they could unravel some of the clues given to them in the gospels and refer back to the Hebrew Scriptures.   The account of our ‘reason for the season’ begins in the book of Luke chapter one when Zechariah was in the Temple at Jerusalem burning incense to God.   The time of  his Temple service is the key to understanding  when of the birth of his son, John took place, as well as the birth of Yeshua. 

1.  Zechariah was a Levite priest in of the lineage of Abijah, a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5, Numbers 3:2).

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron” (Luke 1:5).

2. All Levitical priests, including Zechariah, were required by God to serve in the Temple during Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles as well as two weeks extra per year according to their family lineage (Deuteronomy 16:16).

“Three times a year all your men must appear before YHVH your God at the place he will  choose:  at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

3.  Abjiah was eighth in line for Temple duties. This means that as a descendant of Abijah,  Zechariah was eighth in line for his Temple duties (1 Chronicles 24:10).

“With the help of Zadok … David separated them [the descendants of Aaron] into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. … The first lot fell to Jehoiarib … the eighth to Abijah ….  This was their appointed order of ministering when they entered the Temple of  the LORD according to the regulations prescribed for them …” (Numbers 1:1-19).

4. Zechariah would have served during the week of Passover and Unleavened Bread  in the Temple as part of his required Temple service.

The Biblical calendar is not the same as the Julian/Gregorian calendar we use today.  Passover is our March/April, Pentecost (Shavuot) near June, Tabernacles or Sukkot September/October. The Scriptures utilize a Biblical calendar with the first month being in spring at the time of Passover (Exodus 12:2).

Zechariah would have served in the spring for Passover/Unleavened Bread.  After Passover, he would have returned home until his lineage service began, eight weeks or about 50 days later.   

5.  Zechariah would have returned to the Temple for his two week duties as part of the lineage of Abijah.  This would have fallen in mid-June during the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot (Pentecost). 

Altar of Incense

6.   An angel of the LORD appeared to Zechariah during his time in the Temple at the Altar of Incense.

As a descendant of Aaron, he would have ministered in the Most Holy Place.  It is at the Altar of Incense that intercessory prayer is made by the priesthood. The angel of the LORD met Zechariah at this specific place and time.  He told him he was going to have a son who he was to name John.  Because of his unbelief, Zechariah is made mute by the angel until the time of his son’s birth. 

“… your prayers have been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John”  (Luke 1:13).

7.   Zechariah returns home after his Temple service. He and Elizabeth conceive a child.  Elizabeth remains in seclusion for five months.

“When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion” (Luke 1:23-24).

Angel Visits Mary

8.  One month later, “when Elizabeth was in her sixth month,” the angel Gabriel visited Mary (Luke 1:26).

Some people question whether this was the sixth month of the year or the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  With the wording of Elizabeth being in seclusion for five months and then  “in the sixth month,” it would seem that the months are contiguous and based on Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Also, the angel tells Mary “Even Elizabeth your relative  … is in her fifth month” giving a witness to the timing of the angel’s visit  (Luke 1:36).

9.  Mary conceives a child by the Holy Spirit and immediately goes to visit Elizabeth.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39).

Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb

When Mary greets her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps.  According to the time period given for Elizabeth’s seclusion,  this most likely would have been the first contact she had with another woman and maybe even the first time she felt the movement of her child.  It is apparent that her unborn son knew the blessing of the Spirit of God on Mary.  The meeting of these two pregnant women had such profound significance that Luke recorded it with details.   Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy in the womb recognizing the newly conceived Messiah of Israel.

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy”  (Luke 1:44).

Six months after Zechariah’s Temple service in mid-June would be about mid-to-late December.   The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah occurs at this time as a memorial to the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks. It is also known as the Festival of Lights because the Temple Menorah was once again lit after its desecration.  It was during Hanukkah, the time of dedication, that the Spirit of God came upon Mary and she conceived Immanuel, God with us, the Light of the World.

Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 not only has prophetic significance about her baby, but is quite the declaration of humble ‘dedication‘ regarding the ‘light of the world.’

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name” (Verses 46-49).

10. Mary stays with Elizabeth for about three months.

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son” (Luke 1:56-57).

Mary returns to Nazareth very close to the time Elizabeth would deliver her baby.  The timing for the birth of Elizabeth’s baby would be mid-March/April or near Passover.    

11.  On the eighth day after the baby’s birth, he is circumcised and named.

Continuing with the Biblical timeline, Zechariah’s son would have been born right before Passover.   This means that Zechariah would have gone to the Temple for his regular service at Passover and while there, he names his son, John, in the presence of astonished people.    This is the first time he has spoken since the angel visited him months before at the Altar of Incense on Shavuot.

“At that moment, his power of speech returned, and his first words were a b’rakhah [blessing] to God” (Luke 1:64).

12. From the information given about the conceptions and pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth, it can be calculated that John and Jesus (Yeshua) were born six months apart.

Six months after Passover in the spring (March/April) would be the fall (September/October), the time of ‘ingathering’ or the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles also falls approximately nine months after Hanukkah in December.

Because of the Roman census being taken by Caesar Augustus, Bethlehem was bustling with Jews from everywhere in Israel.  All native born Israelites, specifically men, were required to live in booths or sukkot for the week of Tabernacles. Women and children who were with their husbands filled all of the inns to capacity. 

“Live in booths (sukkot) for seven days:  All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42).

Under these crowded conditions, Joseph and Mary are given a temporary dwelling, called a stable in most Bible translations, and Mary gives birth to her son.  The baby was placed in a cattle feeding trough (Luke 2:4-7).

“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger (sukkah) …” (Luke 2:6).

Yeshua in a Sukkah

According to the command in Leviticus 23, the Israelites were to live in a sukkah for seven days.  Consistent with the rabbinical definition of a temporary dwelling or sukkah, a stable would have been  an acceptable substitute.  Because of the timing of Yeshua’s birth during the Feast of Tabernacles, many people believe that it was not a literal stable, but a sukkah.   The Greek word for ‘manger’ in Luke 2:7 is phatne and can mean ‘cattle stall’ or sukkoth just like what Jacob built for his livestock (Genesis 33:17).  The equivalent Hebrew word for ‘manger’ is the singular sukkah. 

Using this information along with the established timeline, Yeshua would have been born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and would have lived with his parents in the sukkah for the first seven days of his life until he was circumcised and named on the eighth day.   Whatever the specific accommodations,  Joseph fulfilled God’s requirement to live in a temporary dwelling during Sukkot as did Yeshua who was the firstborn son of God.

13.   The angels rejoiced because ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…’ (John 1:14, Luke 2).

The Greek word for ‘dwelling’ in this verse is skenoo and means  ‘spread his tent’ among us.  As a booth or sukkah is a temporary dwelling like a tent, this verse could read, “The Word became flesh and spread his tent (tabernacle) among us” making a direct allusion to Yeshua being born at the Feast of Tabernacles. 

14.  On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests in the Temple would wave large branches of several different trees  in the Temple.

The Lulav: Willow, Palm, Myrtle and Citron (Etrog)

These branches were called lulavs and represented the different nations of the world.  Hundreds of priests waving large branches from the willow, the palm and the myrtle, would have created an enormous sound like a ‘rushing wind’ as they walked toward the Temple.  In Hebrew,  the word for God’s Spirit is ruach and means ‘wind.’  As the priests were waving these tree branches, they were unaware of the birth of Yeshua.  They had no idea that the salvation of Israel, through the ‘wind’ of God and a humble woman, had come to live in a little baby. 

“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month… celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days …. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD  your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:39-41).

15. There were shepherds in the hills outside of Jerusalem  (Luke 2:8-15).

“As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8).

Tower of the Flock

The shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem, a short distance from Jerusalem,  were special shepherds.  They camped at the Migdal Eder and raised the sacrificial sheep for the Temple offerings.  According to the prophecy in Micah, the Jewish people believed that the Messiah would be revealed at the Migdal Eder, “the tower of the flock.”

At the time of Yeshua’s birth, there  was an actual military watchtower above the hills that was used to protect Bethlehem.  This tower also was used by the shepherd to guard the Temple sheep from robbers.  It was from these sheep that the Passover lambs were chosen.  When the angels came announcing the ‘good news’ to all the world, these shepherds would have completely understood the meaning because they were at the exact location for the prophesy of Messiah’s birth to be fulfilled. 

16.  Eight days later, it was time for the baby’s circumcision and naming (Luke 2:21).

Eight days after a sons’ birth, the father would take the child to be circumcised and named because the mother would still be in her time of purification and could not enter the Temple area.  When Yeshua is eight days old, Joseph takes his infant son to Jerusalem to the Temple and names him Yeshua as he was commanded by the angel.  Yeshua means ‘salvation.’

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘the LORD saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21-22).

Rejoicing in the Torah – Simchat Torah

The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for seven days.  The following day, the eighth day, there is a special celebration called Simchat Torah  which means ‘Rejoicing in the Torah.’   As Yeshua was being named by his father, crowds were in the Temple courts dancing, singing, and rejoicing in the Torah.   In their midst, without their knowledge, the living Torah had just been named Salvation.

“On the eighth day, when it came time to circumcise him, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived” (Luke 2:21).

17.   Mary’s purification completed.

“When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest a year-old lamb … and a young pigeon or dove…. He shall offer them before YHVH … and she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.  …If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves …” (Leviticus 12:6-8).

Redemption of the Firstborn

Forty days after Yeshua’s birth, Mary’s time of purification was completed. She and Joseph took Yeshua to the Temple for the Redemption of the Firstborn according to the Torah command in Leviticus 12:8.   It was at this time, they offered the sacrifice of the doves. 

“When the time of her purification according to the Torah of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written) …” (Luke 2:22).

There were two prophets in the Temple who knew and expected the Word to become flesh, salvation of Israel to be revealed.  Simeon and Anna, two witnesses to Messiah’s birth, spoke prophecies over Yeshua in the presence of his parents.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. …There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher” (Luke 2:25,39).

18. At this time, a sign appeared in the heavens (Matthew 2:1-2).

Every kingdom in the known world had astronomers who studied and understood the signs in the heavens.   Each culture, but more specifically the Jewish culture, looked to the heavens for the fulfillment of  Biblical prophecy.   Constellations, planets and stars moved to tell God’s story as well as to set His ‘appointed time’s.  Other middle eastern cultures studied the Hebrew concepts and understood their connection to the people of Israel.

Astronomers from the east (probably from what is modern day Iraq/Iran) saw this “sign” in the heavens and began their journey toward Jerusalem to bow down and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   The word ‘star’ in this verse is the Hebrew is kokhav and is referred to in Numbers 24:17 along with the scepter from Jacob, all terminology for  stars and planets that are ‘signs in the heavens.’

19.  The magi or wise men arrived in Bethlehem.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:9).

The journey of ‘the wise men,’ (number unknown and probably a lot more than three) took a long time to get to Israel as they were on foot and traveled a great distance of nearly 500 miles.  When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, Yeshua was no longer a baby nor living in a sukkah.  The Scripture calls Yeshua a child and the wise men came to his home with their gifts.  They returned back to Iran/Iraq by a different route because Herod was angry that there was another ‘king’ and sent out an edit for the murder of all baby boys under the age of two in and around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18).

This is how the conception, birth, and life began for Yeshua.  According to the information written in the Torah, Prophets, and Gospels, Yeshua was born in the ‘season of our rejoicing’, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in a sukkah. The shepherds knew from the angelic hosts that ‘peace on earth and good will toward men’ had come as the ‘lamb of God’ in the town of the Migdal Eder, Bethlehem.  While all Israel rejoiced in the Torah given by God, the living Torah, the begotten Son of God was circumcised and named Salvation.

©1997 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.

The Biblical Sabbath – Shabbat

Sabbath

“On six days work will get done; but the seventh day is Shabbat, for complete rest, set apart for the LORD…. The people of Israel are to keep the Shabbat, to observe Shabbat through all their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:15-16).

There is a lot of confusion today about the Sabbath.  Some people believe that it was done away with when Yeshua died on the cross.  Other people believe that the day was changed from the seventh day to the first.   Still others say that all but the fourth commandment are in force because it was not reiterated in the New Testament.  Some even go further and say there are no longer any real commandments we have to obey because we’ve been ‘set free from the law.’

In the Beginning

The first mention of Sabbath is Genesis 2:1-2:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

In the beginning, God created a day to honor ‘ceasing from His creative work.’   He made it holy or set it apart from the rest of the week.  This is the foundation for the seventh-day rest known as the  Sabbath.   

In Hebrew the word for Sabbath is Shabbat and its root is the word sheva meaning ‘seven.’  This gives witness to the Sabbath day being the seventh day of the week versus any other day.

Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet have a picture associated with them.  When the individual letter pictures are joined together, a word picture develops that gives insight into the word.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Sabbath or Shabbat – שבת

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consumed or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

Bet ב – A House means ‘home, family’

Tau ת – A Cross means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant’

The Hebrew word picture for shabbat: The covenant sign of God’s consuming divine presence in the home or family.

Sabbath Instructions

The next time Sabbath is mentioned is in the wilderness after Israel had spent  400 years in slavery in Egypt never having a day of rest.  God explained the Sabbath command to this mixed multitude with specific guidelines about gathering manna:

“I will rain down bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.  In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days. …Keep in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.  Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.  So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:4-5,29).

Sabbath for the Israelites was a test of faith.  God wanted to see if His newly formed nation would simply follow His instructions.  It was no different from Adam and Eve in the Garden.  If they would just simply obey His Word and prepare for the Sabbath by gathering enough manna on the sixth day, they could stay in their tents and rest on the Sabbath.  Some, however, did not listen to God’s instruction and their disobedience brought maggots and stench to the community!

“Some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it [the man] until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell” (Exodus 16:20).

The Ten Commandments

God includes the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, part of His instructions that would set Israel apart from all other nations.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a  Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

The commandment about Sabbath begins with the word remember.     ‘Remember’ that only a couple of chapters earlier the Israelites were tested regarding to the Sabbath day and some of them paid no attention. To begin this commandment with remember suggests it will be the one most likely forgotten.  The Sabbath was not only to be a weekly reminder that God was the Provider for Israel’s sustenance and life, but that He was their Creator. 

To ignore the  Sabbath is to lose the picture of God’s cycle of working for six days and resting on the seventh.  The modern-day result of forgetting the Sabbath,  along with workaholism,  is the acceptance of evolution within the Body of Messiah.  Some pastors teach there is evolutionary creation with each day being 1000 or even 1 million years.   Such thinking negates the sign of Jonah that Yeshua gave for his time in the grave:  three days and three nights. The Hebrew word, yom, is used for each day of creation as well as the three days Yeshua was in the grave.  Each yom of creation was identified numerically from one to seven, ‘evening to morning’ defining a 24-hour day within a 7-day weekly cycle culminating with the Sabbath.

Appointed Time

Sabbath is given to God’s people as the first of  the ‘’appointed times.’

“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a  Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:3).

From previous instructions given by God for the Sabbath along with this one,  families were to assemble in their tents in a sacred manner to remember their Creator and rest from their labors. It was to be remembered whether they lived in the wilderness, the Promised Land, or the dispersion among the nations. 

Sabbath Regulations

God gives more regulations to His people regarding the Sabbath in the Torah and through the Prophets. These guidelines defined what He considered work so that Israel would rest and remember Him and not fall back into a lifestyle of bondage. 

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest” (Exodus 34:21).

“Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day” (Exodus 35:3, Leviticus 26:2, and Deuteronomy 5:12).

“While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.   …Then YHVH said to Moses, the man must die” (Numbers 15:32).

“When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day” (Nehemiah 10:31).

“When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over.  I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day” (Nehemiah 13:19).

From these Scriptures came the following Sabbath instructions: Do not kindle a fire, do not gather wood, do not buy or sell, do not carry a load, rest in season and out, and a Sabbath day’s walk.  None of the regulations resulted in harsh punishment except once because God never killed anyone for random disobedience.  After watching His people live in slavery for 400 years, He had to show them that He was serious about ceasing from work.  He knew that one rebellious person would cause everyone else to be disobedient.

The Sabbath and Yeshua

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that had been made” (John 1:1-3).

In these two verses, Yeshua refers to the beginning when Sabbath was created.  He was there in the beginning with his Father when  He spoke the seventh-day into existence.  As the spoken word of God, Yeshua was an integral part of creating the Sabbath.

Yeshua did give one ordinance for the Sabbath when he was accused of disobeying man’s traditions.   He made it lawful to do good.  He demonstrated what was good by healing the sick and feeding his disciples.

“How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).

“Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath” (John 7:23).

“One Sabbath Yeshua was going going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’  Yeshua answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.’  Then Yeshua said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’” (Luke 6:1-5).

On the Sabbath, Yeshua went into the synagogue and taught his brothers and sisters, the lost sheep of the House of Israel.   He read  the Hebrew Scriptures according to the Sabbath custom, he he healed people and he cast out evil spirits.   Not only were the Jewish people amazed, they believed in him (Mark 6:2, John 8:30).

Throughout the centuries rabbis and other leaders compiled their own interpretations to the instructions given through the prophets which added great burdens on the people.  This was not God’s purpose for the Sabbath so Yeshua untwisted men’s interpretations showing that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not men’s rules.  He wanted to show his brothers and sisters  how they were to live out the Sabbathand not become enslaved to it. 

“Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

As the Son of God, Yeshua has authority over Sabbath.  Though man can enjoy the day, determine how he will spend the day in rest, he  has no authority to change it, remove it, add to it or take anything away from it.  No man, except Yeshua, would have had this authority and he never took it. 

The Jews’ Sabbath

Many people still believe, in spite of the Biblical evidence, that the seventh-day Sabbath is only for the Jewish people.  When Yeshua stated that Sabbath was created for man, he spoke in a broader sense than just Jewish or even Israelite men and women.  After all, Sabbath was created ‘in the beginning’ before there was ever a Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Tribe of Judah.  There was only Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Sabbath was created for them to fellowship with their Creator. 

Though Yeshua never spoke Greek, it is important to note that the Greek word anthropos translated “man”  in Mark 2:27 literally means “man-faced.”  According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, the primary definition of anthropos is, “a human being, whether male or female, without reference to sex or nationality, to include all human beings.”  This means that Yeshua knew and understood that Sabbath was created for all human beings, not just his Jewish brothers and sisters.

Yeshua never taught that the Sabbath was abolished or would ever be.   In fact, he taught just the opposite when he says that nothing will disappear from the Torah until heaven and earth pass away.     Just because he angered the leaders of his day doesn’t mean he was in any way breaking the Sabbath as God intended; he was challenging their manmade rules that had become so steeped in tradition that they had become blinded to the commands of God (Mark 7:8).

These Scriptures in the Gospels, spoken and lived out by Yeshua, confirm that Sabbath was re-iterated in the New Testament. Yeshua, who was with the Father at the creation of the Sabbath, kept the day holy as it was meant to be and called himself the Lord of the Sabbath for all men everywhere who would come to him and put their faith in God.

After the Resurrection

“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a  Sabbath day’s walk (or 3/4 miles) from the city” (Acts 1:12).

The Apostles and the first century church remained faithful to the Sabbath. This short walk shows that the disciples didn’t break the Sabbath.  Even with the resurrected Messiah, they still respected the allowable travel distance given to Israel.  Paul reasoned in the synagogues and shared the gospel on the Sabbath.

“On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the LORD …” (Acts 13:44).

“Saul [Paul] spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Yeshua is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). 

“On the Sabbath they [Paul and his companions] entered the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading from the Law [Torah] and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak” (Acts 13:15-19).

“As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:32).

“Instead we should write to them [the gentiles], telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.   For the Torah of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:20-21).

Nothing changed regarding the seventh-day Sabbath after Yeshua’s resurrection.  Jews and gentiles who wanted to know God and hear the Word of the Lord gathered in the synagogues on the Sabbath. They heard the words of Torah, they heard the Apostles preach, and they learned about the Lord of the Sabbath.   

Prophetic Signs and Promises

“I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my Torah.  Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us.  Then you will know that I AM the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

The prophet Ezekiel reminds the Israelites of the continued importance of Sabbath as a sign between God and His people.  No matter where they lived,  Sabbath was the sign they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh, the King of the Universe.  By keeping the Sabbath, they remained in the center of God’s promises and divine will.

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD who makes you holy” (Exodus 31:13).

Sabbath for the Nations

Isaiah prophesied blessings for those from the nations who keep the Sabbath.  Foreigners or gentiles who are joined to God (through faith in Yeshua), who serve Him, love His Name and worship Him, may enjoy all the Sabbath blessings included in the covenant and promises He made with Israel.  They are no longer excluded and strangers. They can worship God together with Israel on His holy hill and receive joy in His house of prayer.

“Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, the LORD will surely exclude me from His people.’   And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship Him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant – these will I bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Just like the Jewish people, the nations are to enter into the Sabbath  rest and focus on the Creator of the Universe.  They are to take delight in the Sabbath and honor it by staying home and resting, not doing their own thing.   Their blessing is finding joy in the LORD and feasting on the inheritance given to Jacob, Israel.

Eternal Sabbath

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.  From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.  And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind’” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

These words of Isaiah prophesy of the time after Yeshua’s Millennial Kingdom, the time of the new heavens and earth.  They also speak of mankind.   The word mankind means everyone regardless of nationality, gender, religious affiliation or doctrinal views of the Sabbath.  There will be mankind who will obey and worship Yahweh and there will also be mankind who do not.  Just like in the wilderness, the consequence for disobedience will be that their worm will not die (maggots) and they will be loathsome to everyone.

When God created the Sabbath,  He never said, “There was evening and morning, the seventh day.” Sabbath was supposed to be eternal fellowship between God and his glorious creation: mankind.  Adam and Eve and all of their descendants were to live in the Garden of Eden forever, but sin ended that eternal fellowship.  In order that mankind would not forget God’s promise of redemption, He commanded remembering the weekly Sabbath as a memorial to the Garden of Eden and a foretaste of the future.   As it was ‘in the beginning‘ so it will be ‘in the end’ when there is a new heavens and a new earth.   The New Jerusalem will down out of heaven and Yahweh will once again make His dwelling with mankind (Revelation 21, 22).  It is with this vision and hope of the eternal Sabbath and everlasting fellowship with our Father that we should remember the weekly Sabbath with joy and delight.

©1997 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  Thank you.

The Woman’s Covering of Authority

“I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.  But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.  But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.  For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to  have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

“A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;  neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.  It is for this reason that a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.   Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

“Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?  Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,  but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.  If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:2-16).

I am often asked how I defend wearing my head covering when women respond with “That was a Jewish tradition,” or “I’ve read that and my hair is my covering,” or “I’m not good enough yet,” or “My husband doesn’t want me to wear one,” or “It’s not for today,” or “My pastor doesn’t teach this.”

Jewish Tradition

“I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you…” (Verse 2).

Yes, veils or head coverings were a Jewish tradition, however, in verse 2 of  1 Corinthians 11, Paul praises the Corinthians for holding to the traditions just as he taught them.  Even Yeshua taught that all traditions weren’t bad; only the ones that nullified a commandment (Mark 7:7).  Being immersed in the Jewish culture, Paul would have understood the veil from a Jewish perspective, especially within the context of betrothal and marriage. However, Paul’s discourse about this tradition holds deeper spiritual implications.

The woman’s covering is found in other Scriptures. Rebecca covers herself  in Genesis 24:65 when she is about to meet her betrothed, Isaac.  It is evident that Leah was covered when she married Jacob, and for this reason, Jacob didn’t note the switch of women (Genesis 29).  Tamar covers herself with a veil so that Judah doesn’t recognize her as his widowed daughter-in-law (Genesis 38).  In the Song of Songs Chapter 4, the Lover speaks of the beauty of his Beloved’s eyes behind her veil. What should we be doing as the ‘Bride of Messiah?’

As the apostle to the gentiles, Paul was speaking to a congregation in Corinth which was made up of non-Jewish men and women.  Whether or not there were Jewish women present, doesn’t matter.  He didn’t need to teach them about the veil for they already understood its purpose.  This was a Jewish tradition being explained to non-Jewish women who were being grafted into the commonwealth of Israel.  Apparently, it was also a tradition that some of  the women of Corinth were ignoring while the rest of the congregations practiced the tradition. These congregations would include the congregations in Ephesus, Galatia, Philipi, and Collosae.

“However, if anyone wants to argue about it, the fact remains that we have no such custom [of unveiling], nor do the Messianic communities of God” (Verse 16).

This verse is often used to argue that after Paul spends a lot of time writing about the deeply-rooted meaning and purpose for the veil, he negates the whole teaching by stating there is no such custom.  What he means is that there is no such custom for a woman to remain unveiled and they as a congregation are to make a decision: 

“Is it appropriate for a woman to pray to God when she is unveiled? (verses 13).

In the second letter to the Corinthians, it appears that Paul’s correction about the traditional veil was heeded.  Even more significant is the revelation that now the veil was only covering the women’s heads, not their faces.

So all of us, with faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the LORD; and we are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next, by the LORD of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

It’s not for today.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

First and foremost, every believer, and in this case women specifically in the Body of Messiah, must address the Scriptures prayerfully with a teachable heart and mind.  Do you honestly believe that all Scripture is God-breathed or only some Scriptures?  Which Scriptures do you think are not for today or were not given through the eternal Holy Spirit? Do you desire to be trained in righteousness?  Is obedience to a command (your cross) more painful than Yeshua’s death by the way of the cross?

We must willingly lay down our lives every day so that we can be transformed into the image of Yeshua. The bottom line to any command in the Word of God begins in the heart of the believer.  If you love God and believe in the inerrancy of His Word, then you should desire to show  Him your love.  Rooted in love for God,  every command falls into place and becomes easy through the strengthening power of His Spirit.  Justification for sin thorugh faith in Yeshua is a free gift from God; sanctification, however, comes with a price.

As a parent who desires simple obedience to a command from my children, my loving Father expects nothing less.  He has precious lessons to teach us, but he can only do that after we stop making rationalizations for disobedience.   Yeshua says in John 14:15, “If you love me you will obey my commands and I will ask the Father and He will send another counselor – the Spirit of Truth.”

With every command from the Father you must become as a child – understanding the why of the command isn’t always understood until you obey, and even then, the reason may not become apparent until you mature.   According to Yeshua, receiving the Spirit of Truth (understanding) follows our obedience not vice versa. 

My hair is my covering.

Using a Greek lexicon for the word ‘cover’ in 1 Corinthians 11, there are two different words used.  Verses 6-7 use the Greek word katakalupto which means “to cover oneself.”  This is a verb which implies an action or something the woman has to do.  In verse 15,  the Greek word peribolaion is used denoting “something thrown around.”  It is a noun, an object.

If Greek is Greek to you, then read the passage changing the word covering to hair beginning with verse 4:

“Every man who prays or prophesies with ‘hair on his head’ dishonors his head.  And every woman who prays or prophesies ‘without hair’ dishonors her head  – it is just as though her head were shaved.”

If hair were the covering or katakalupto, then every man should be without hair or bald while praying and prophesying.  Concurrently,  every woman who prays or prophesies without hair should shave her head.  How can a woman shave her head if she is already without hair?  Neither concept makes sense because the Greek word for ‘covering’ is not hair.  It is an action taken, not a noun.  In the American Standard Version Bible, verse 6 uses the verb form of the Greek word correctly with the phrase “let her be veiled” because “let her have hair” makes no sense. 

“For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to be a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.”

Let’s do the same thing with verse 15 and the noun peribolaion:

“… but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?  For long hair is given to her as “hair.”

In this verse, when the noun is used,  hair is given to a woman as hair.   This makes sense.   This latter Greek word denotes that the noun hair is given to a woman as “something thrown around” her literal head.  There is nothing a woman has to do to let her hair grow.  Hair is a natural occurrence.

God’s Divine Order

“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Messiah, and the head of the woman is man,  and the head of Messiah is God…. A man ought not to cover his head since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;  neither was man created for woman, but woman for man …” (verses 3, 7).

I put these verses together to show that the Creator’s divine order of God, Messiah, Man and Woman is found in the creational order.  Man was created first in the image of God in order to glorify his Creator (Genesis 1:27).   Because of his image, he is not to cover his head.  Woman was created from the flesh of man for the purpose of being the glory of man.

Praying and Prophesying

“But every woman who prays or prophesies …” (verse 5).

Praying and prophesying are not cultural or even traditions.  They are spiritual actions done by believers in Messiah.

What specifically is praying and prophesying?  I heard a pastor speak on this passage a long time ago and I thought he gave simple and logical definitions.  I use them because I like them.  Praying is talking to God and prophesying is talking about God.  The Amplified Bible elaborates on prophecy in this verse: “Any woman who (publicly) prays or prophesies (teaches, refutes, reproves, admonishes, or comforts) when she is bareheaded dishonors her head; it is the same as (if her head were) shaved.”

Before Yeshua, Jewish men and women prayed and prophesied  separately in the Temple with an outer court specifically designed for women.  It is the same today in an ultra-orthodox synagogue as well as at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  Men and women are separated and pray on different sides of a barrier or fence.   However, in Messiah,  men and women are co-heirs together through faith in Yeshua because there is no ‘Jew or gentile, male nor female’ in the spiritual body.  This is significant to the unity of worship of God in a congregation that includes men and women, Jew and non-Jew praying and prophesying.

“As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak …” (1Corinthians 14:33-34).

Though this verse may sound harsh toward women, it is meant to avoid what is happening in the church today – uncovered women praying and prophesying, giving testimonies, leading worship and teaching men.  Many times the authority taken by women leads to complacent, unspiritual men.  This is contrary to the line of authority established by God.   Women, who want the authority to pray and prophesy publicly are commanded to be covered or should remain silent.  This allows for men to lead as they are supposed to in the realm where they are supposed to lead.  Whatever your personal conviction about these verses,  if you are a woman in the Body of Messiah and desire greater spiritual leadership from your husband,  I counsel you to seek the Lord seriously about remaining silent when in a congregational setting or covering your head if you desire to pray or prophesy aloud. 

If a woman is to remain silent in a public assembly, when does she teach, refute, reprove, admonish or comfort as written in The Amplified Bible?

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers … then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God”  (Titus 2:3-5).

A woman’s place or realm of authority is in the home where she is to be busy,  teach and train her children, and be subject to her husband.  While doing these profound spiritual works, she will be praying for her children and speaking the Scriptures to them.  She will ultimately be blessing her husband as the helpmeet she was created to be and no one will malign the word of God.  As she grows older, she has the opportunity to encourage younger women God brings into her home.

What about women’s conventions, rallies, and seminars?  Many of these gatherings are not about encouraging women to be set apart  and holy for the Lord, strengthening them in the wisdom of Scriptures. Most are emotional, feel-good milk toast formula messages sprinkled in with comedy and mocking the woman’s soul, her home, her husband and her children.   Take a closer look at the women who are leading these seminars.  Most of them are shorn, something that is called ‘shameful’ by God.   When it comes to attending women’s conferences,  make sure the leaders are really virtuous women preaching and teaching the Word of God, encouraging you to become a Proverbs 31 woman warrior and not tickling your itching ears or rationalizing a carnal culture into your  spiritual life and home.   Any woman who leads, teaches, trains, and rebukes should have her head covered.

I’m not submissive enough.

Many years ago, a woman who didn’t cover told me that I needed a covering because I wasn’t submissive to my husband.  At first I was hurt by her accusation because wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and I didn’t want to be falling short of that calling (Ephesians 5:22).  However, if women didn’t have a problem with submitting to their husbands,  God wouldn’t have commanded us to do it.   With that reasoning, the head covering became a blessed reminder to honor my husband as I would the Lord.  It wasn’t long after our discussion that this woman began attending a church that taught the woman’s covering.  She had to choose whether or not to wear what she considered a sign of submission.

The verses in Corinthians don’t give any prerequisite for wearing a covering.  Moreover, nowhere does 1 Corinthians 11 even suggest that the woman’s covering is a sign of submission to her husband or that she has to perfect submission before she wears it.

Sign of Authority

“It is for this reason [creational order] that a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head …” (verse 10).

This particular understanding of the veil was taught to me by the Spirit of God long after I put one on my head.  As with many of God’s commands, understanding doesn’t come until there is obedience.   At this point, let me make it very clear that wearing a head covering has nothing to do with being justified before God.   Covering is an act of obedience after initial salvation, a step in  the sanctification process that makes a woman more like Messiah.  It becomes a blessing only when a woman exercises her faith in God by covering.

When a woman covers her head, she acknowledges her submission to the divine order that God established for her at Creation: God, Messiah, Man, Woman.  If you would follow this divine order to  its literal conclusion,  a woman should be taking her prayers to the man (her husband) and the man to Messiah and Messiah to God.

In Messiah, however, a woman is a spiritual co-heir with man and  she can pray directly to the Father through Yeshua.   She can prophesy about God to those He brings into her life just as a man does.  She can make disciples from all nations and take authority over the enemy just as any spiritually discerning man  (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 10:19).  Because she has been given equal authority in the spiritual realm, a  woman wears a sign of authority so that it will be evident that such overwhelming power comes from God and not from herself (2 Corinthians 4:7). 

In the practical realm of my life, as I teach my children at home,  I wear the sign of authority so that they know that God, Yeshua, and Daddy have put me in the position of teaching them and praying with them.  It also shows them that I don’t have to ask permission for every little thing that I plan to do.  Authority has been given me by my head, my husband, and we’re both under the authority of Messiah and God.   There have been times that I have had to do spiritual battle with and for my children.  As I wear the sign of authority, I am showing forth not only God’s divine order, but the power He has given to me as a woman of valor.

Some versions of the Bible translate the ‘sign of authority’ to a sign of power. What kind of power does a woman, a prophetess have when wearing a veil?  Though the power was misused, Ezekiel 13:20-22 gives a glimpse into the power behind the veil: 

‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds.  I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD.  Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives ….”

God says that he will tear off the veils of false prophetesses in order to save His people from their power.  The fact that the veil is a sign of power over people becomes clear.  Even more telling is that when women falsely prophesy, tell lies, and encourage wickedness (lawlessness), their veils are removed.  Up until the 1960s women wore hats in church.  Then came the women’s liberation movement that infiltrated not only modern western society, but the western church.  Could the fact that the head covering is missing from American Christian women today suggest that it was God Himself who removed the sign of power from women because they forsook His ways?  He won’t tolerate false prophetesses in His Kingdom any more than He tolerated false prophets and prophetesses in Israel.

Because of the Angels

“For this reason and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head” (verse 10). 

For this reason follows the outline of creational order already discussed.  And adds another dimension to the reason for a woman’s covering – because of the angels. 

What are some aspects we know about angels from the Scriptures.    They are created beings (Colossians 1:16).   They ascend and descend from heaven (Genesis 28:12).  They stand in the presence of God (Job 1:6).  They obey God’s will (Psalm 103:20).  They minister to those who inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).  They will separate the wicked from the righteous (Matthew 13:49).   They never die (Luke 20:36).  They submit to Yeshua who is at the Right Hand of God (1 Peter 3:22).  They long to know the gospel as it has been given to mankind (1 Peter 1:12).  They guard the congregations of Messiah (Revelation 1:20).  They will be judged by men (1 Corinthians 6:3).  They give signs and need signs (Luke 2:12, 1 Corinthians 11:10). 

Though Paul is not specific about the reason the sign of authority is needed because of the angels, they obviously need one.  Angels, unlike God, cannot see or know what is in our hearts or minds.  Perhaps the angels need the sign of authority so they can recognize a woman who has placed herself willingly within God’s divine order.  When it comes to separating the wicked from the righteous, what if the woman’s head covering sets her apart from the unrighteous remain outside the gates of the New Jerusalem?  What if the angels in the spiritual realm are put into a state of confusion when an uncovered woman prays or prophesies and they can’t battle for her in the heavenly realm leaving her prayers unanswered?   Psalm 91 says “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways….” How do angels know the women to guard in all their ways?

There is also another group of angels to whom Paul may be referring: the fallen ones.   

Jude verse 6 (The Amplified Bible):  “And the angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their positions of authority (own first place of power) but abandoned their own home (proper dwellings) – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”

Notice that some angels did not keep their first place of authority, but abandoned their proper dwelling place and went somewhere else.  They didn’t value their first place of power and abandoned their own home.   Because of this, they are being kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains waiting for judgment.  Could “because of the angels” have something to do with these fallen angels?   Jude actually quotes these verses from the book of Enoch as there was no ‘canon of Scripture’ when he was writing.

“Go and make known to the Watchers of heaven who have abandoned the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women” (1 Enoch 12:4).

“For what reason have you abandoned the high, holy, and eternal heaven; and slept with women and defiled yourselves with the daughters of the people … I did not make wives for you for the proper dwelling place of spiritual beings of heaven is heaven” (1 Enoch 15:3, 7).

“Bind Azazel hand and foot and throw him into the darkness….He covered his face in order that he may not see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment” (1 Enoch 10:4-6).

“Bind Semjaza and the others who are with him, who fornicated with the women, that they will die together with them in all their defilement…Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded” (1 Enoch 10:11-12:).

From these verses in Enoch, the fallen angels are most likely those spoken of in Genesis before the flood.  These are the angels who left their place of authority in the heavenly realm and came to earth. They had sexual relations with the daughters of men and gave birth to giants.  There are some allusions in the book of Enoch that these angels were attracted to human women’s long beuatiful hair.   Could the woman’s head covering be a sign to the offspring of the fallen angels, the Nephilim, that this woman is ‘off limits’ to their seductive powers?  Could the covering of her hair be a woman’s protection as the world enters the ‘days of Noah?’  Could the covering actually be a protection for the angels that didn’t fall, but may be tempted?

In our modern feminist era, women need to understand what abandoning their their husbands, children, and homes means in the eyes of God.  He uses the angels as an example to those who refuse to accept their first position of authority. Believing they have been liberated from the bondage of God’s divine order,  women leave their homes for church leadership and worldly careers. They pass the fruit of this disobedience onto their children.  They lack discernment and live in darkness, bound by spiritual chains that may eventually cost them and their children (daughters’) protection.   “Because of the angels” gives the woman’s head covering definitive spiritual significance that needs to be prayerfully considered by women in the Body of Messiah today. 

The Glory of God, Man and Woman

“A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. …  that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (verses 7,15).

The Hebrew word for ‘glory’ is kavod and holds the idea of ‘something heavy’ or ‘falling down upon.’  In Greek, the word ‘glory’ is doxa and means ‘great honor, praise and splendor’ specifically in reference to people.  It also carries with it the idea of delight.  Combining the Hebrew and Greek definitions, glory is the ‘honor, praise and splendor falling down upon the people of God bringing Him delight.’

Using this terminology, man is the delight and splendor of God, woman is the delight and splendor of man, and the woman’s  hair is the delight and splendor of woman.  In the natural realm, God gives women hair in which to delight.  And, we do delight in it for how many women spend unending hours and wads of money fixing their hair for church?  What are the motives behind beautiful hair during worship?  Make other women jealous?  Entice men?

When a woman covers her hair,  she chooses to cover her own glory and protect the men around her.  God wants men made in His image to pray and prophesy without distraction so their prayers aren’t hindered.   Hair is very seductive to men and even seductive to  our ‘guardian’ angels.  Women with uncovered long hair are mostly likely leading some man into lust of the flesh or even testing the ministering angels.    Is that what a Godly woman wants to be doing in a church setting?   Is it worth stumbling a brother because you don’t want to cover your hair?

Many years ago,  I had a man in church ask me why I covered my head when I had such beautiful hair.  I responded with, “Why are you looking at my hair when you should be worshiping the Lord?”  He was embarrassed and remained silent –  and my hair was covered!   How many men are distracted in church because of the woman’s unwillingness to follow a simple ordinance?

I once met an elderly Jewish woman who was the wife of a rabbi.  She was not saved, but she was blessed by my covering.  She was awed that I, a gentile woman, would cover myself in the presence of a holy God.  It actually brought tears to her eyes.  I had never really been enlightened to that aspect of the covering.   For me, it suddenly became symbolic of Moses taking off his shoes because he stood on holy ground.  He also wore a a veil because the glory of God was so powerful that no one could look at him.   My covering touched her heart enough to open the door for me to share Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah and salvation, with her. 

God doesn’t want our individual glory, our delight to be shining in the sanctuary.  He wants His; and man is His glory.  There is something transcendent about acknowledging God’s holiness by covering our glorious hair and allowing His glory to fall powerfully on the Body of Messiah. 

The Age of Accountability

Some women have asked the age or marital status when a covering should be worn.  For the answer, I looked up woman in my Greek lexicon, but it wasn’t listed for 1 Corinthians 11.   So, I am depending on the Spirit of God to show me the answer to this question.  Logically, I would think the covering should include all women, not just married women.  I say this because divine order shouldn’t just apply to married women.  Divine order is a command for all women who are part of God’s Kingdom.  If the passage were only for married women,  single women would  be free to live out of God’s divine order.  This is foolishness because a woman should always be (or at least used to always be) under the authority of a man, whether it’s her husband, father, or brother.  The sign that a single woman knows and accepts the order of headship is just as important as a married woman accepting that order.

At what age should a single woman wear a veil if the ordinance is for all women?  My answer would be when she enters womanhood.  In the Old Testament, a boy became a man at 12.  I would assume that a girl became a woman around 12, too.  At this time, I would present the Scripture to a young woman and then let the Lord do His work in her heart regarding the veil.   She needs to hear and be informed of the passage from an early age so that she has time to be challenged by God and changed by His Holy Spirit.  If we force or require a young woman to wear a veil, then her  heart is not at the bottom of the issue and the veil because a job to do. 

My husband doesn’t want me to wear a covering.

Most women have read the passage, but want to continue in their rebellion.  They love their hair and don’t want to cover it.  They may have tried to wear one, but it slips off.  Maybe they are praying for the ‘right time’ that never comes.  Many times women use their husbands as an excuse for not wearing the head covering.

Quite frankly, your husband doesn’t want you covered.  You are his glory, his delight.  He loves your long hair.  It is attractive to him.  This is good and right and natural.  However, when it comes to the glory of God that should be honored, it is  his own flesh desires that keep him from allowing you to obey.  This is sin. 

From what I read in 1 Corinthians 11, wearing a covering is not up for discussion between husbands and wives, men and women.   God desires obedience in all areas of our lives and this one area is no exception.  Though we are commanded to submit to our husbands, should our husbands encourage us to dishonor this tradition if we are truly being convicted by the Spirit of God?

I was blessed that my husband bought me my first covering.  This is not always the case.   Most husbands shy away from the woman’s covering for the reasons already mentioned and many others, too.   If you truly desire to cover, I would suggest you be in earnest prayer for your husband’s eyes to be opened to the deeper meaning of the Scripture passage. Pray for his heart to be changed regarding this unique tradition given to women. Pray for him have the glory of God fall on him.

Several years ago my husband asked if I would remove my covering when we’re just hanging out at home.  He does enjoy my hair and as his wife, I submitted to that request.  However, whenever we have guests or I leave my home, I am covered because I have no idea if God is going to call on me to pray or prophesy and I want to have His sign of authority.

My pastor doesn’t teach this.

Why isn’t the woman’s head covering taught in most American churches today?  Simply put, feminism in the Body of Messiah.  Feminism is as old as Eve picking the fruit, taking it to Adam, pressuring him to do what she wants and he submits.  They both die in disobedience.

It’s in a woman’s sin nature not to be submissive and it is fed by a culture of women’s equal rights, even in the church.  Pastors know this and fear it because feminism is Satan’s stronghold in America.  How many pastors want to lose their jobs over a woman’s head covering?  These leadership insecurities cause women in the Body to miss an incredible blessing and cause unnecessary confusion in the divine order.

Romans 13:2 states “He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”   This verse is talking about governing authorities that have been established by God.  First Corinthians 11 outlines one such governing authority and the sign that shows it is being heeded.

Personal Battles and Thank You

This has not been an easy walk for me.  I have been attacked by women, men and especially pastors.  I have been called names and been accused of being a heretic.   I have had my moments of rebellion and disobedience.  There were times I’m sure I had an attitude of self-righteousness and coercion because I was weary of standing alone.  Sometimes the Lord gently reminded me of my falling away and brought me back; other times He had to jolt me with guilt and sorrow for my disobedience to the truths He has so generously taught me through the head covering.

I know wearing a veil has brought attention to me, but that is part of my witness to what God has done in my heart and life.   People should know and see I am a follower of Messiah and not of the world.  I am not to make my sisters stumble into sin, but I am to challenge them into good works.   If I have stumbled anyone into sin through my covering, I ask forgiveness.   My prayer has always been that women of God would be convicted by the Holy Spirit and desire a deeper understanding of being Messiah’s pure and holy bride. 

Judy and Shelley, you blessed me on that Tabernacles day. Mr. African pastor, (God knows your name), you blessed and encouraged me, too.  I learned that at least in the greater Body of Messiah around the world, my sisters cover.  Carol, you encouraged me in ways that you will never completely understand.  Thank you.   Divine intervention happens when we submit to the Living Word.   That sword surely is two-edged.  Pam,  it was a joy to meet someone through the internet, nearly 20 years ago, who willingly wore a veil in a church that taught the covering without coercion.   The heart of your daughter was a blessing to me.  Kathy, thank you for receiving my Passover gift and wearing it expectantly.  Kay, thank you for the beautiful silk head covering that came from your heart.  Lucette, thank you for telling me to “stand firm.”  I know there will continue to be times ahead where I am persecuted, challenged and even discouraged by believers because of my head covering.   Theresa, thank you for asking so many questions and being the watering can.  Renee, what can I say but praise God for your conviction that took me deeper into this walk.  Calling me a faithful sister in your book was quite an honor.  Teresa, it was worth the wait for a like-minded sister.  Pastors Dave, Doug and Greg, thank you for all the persecution.  Your words and actions only helped challenge me to pray and ask my heavenly Father why the head covering incites judgment, mockery and disrespect among male leaders in church.    I bless you with revelation, understanding, wisdom, and true discipleship in the Word of God.

Finally, thank you Yeshua for giving me such an incredible walk and testimony.   I have an answer now for anyone who asks why I wear the head covering.   Simply, I obey the Word of  God.

Another beautiful testimony for the head covering.

©1997 – Revised 2006, 2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author (Julie Almanrode) or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  Thank you.

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